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AI vs. Traditional: Which is the Best Approach in Recruitment

Recruiting challenges change constantly, which means you need creativity to stay ahead of the curve and ensure efficient hiring. However, traditional methods, while tried and tested, can struggle to keep pace with the dynamic hiring needs of today’s world. Enter AI recruiting.

From sourcing to candidate assessment, this promising method brings various tools and technologies that help streamline recruitment processes. It can sift through vast volumes of data in real-time, expediting top talent searches and fine-tuning selections based on your parameters.

As such, it isn’t surprising that 45% of companies utilized AI recruitment tools in 2023.

READ: How to Welcome AI in Your Recruiting Process

As businesses shift to AI, the debate between modern and traditional methods intensifies. Each approach boasts its strengths, but they share the same goal: securing the best talent swiftly and effectively.

AI vs. traditional recruitment

The battle between these two methods revolves around efficacy, personal touch and adaptability. AI, with its data-driven precision, battles against the human-centric approach of traditional methods. Here are the strengths and weaknesses, and how they fare in critical recruitment domains.

Speed and efficiency

AI recruiting tools can swiftly scan through resumes, identify patterns and shortlist candidates in a fraction of the time it takes traditional methods. Automated processes expedite initial screenings, accelerating the overall hiring timeline significantly.

Conversely, traditional methods rely on human judgment, often prolonging the process due to manual candidate evaluation and decision-making.

Candidate experience

Traditional methods tend to excel in providing a more personalized candidate experience. Human interactions, through customized communication and tailored processes, contribute to a more engaging and empathetic candidate journey, which is essential for businesses trying to appeal to top talent.

However, AI’s advancements in natural language processing (NLP) and chatbots attempt to bridge this gap, offering instantaneous responses and personalized interactions at scale. Though these AI tools are not quite at the level of consistently passing as humans, developers are constantly improving their function, which may only be a matter of time.

READ: Unlocking the Power of Conversational AI — 6 Game-Changing Applications for Your Business

Bias mitigation

Hypothetically, AI promises to minimize bias in recruitment decisions by basing assessments on data rather than subjective human judgment. However, biases can seep into AI algorithms through training data or flawed equations, leading to unintended discriminatory outcomes. After all, humans tend to influence their creations, often without intent.

Traditional methods, though prone to inherent biases, often have human intervention that can mitigate them to an extent.

Adaptability and flexibility

AI evolves rapidly, constantly learning and adapting based on data patterns and user interactions. This adaptability continuously refines and optimizes processes. Contrastingly, traditional methods may need help to swiftly adapt to changing trends, technology or sudden shifts in the job market.

AI can be particularly helpful when onboarding remote hires since AI-analyzed data can help depict special skills you otherwise wouldn’t have because of the lack of face-to-face interaction — integral when observing an applicant’s soft skills and personal qualities.

READ: AI in the Workplace — A Roadmap For HR Professionals

Cost considerations

Investing in new technologies and tools will almost certainly come with a steep initial price tag. For smaller businesses, it can even be prohibitively expensive. However, in the long run, efficiency gains and reduced time-to-hire can outweigh the initial costs.

Conversely, traditional methods may be more cost-effective upfront, but hidden costs associated with prolonged vacancies, higher turnover rates and increased labor requirements might overshadow these apparent savings.

The Hybrid Model

In reality, the ideal approach is most likely somewhere between these two approaches — a symbiosis that capitalizes on the strengths of both AI and traditional recruitment. Hybrid models are most likely to become greater than the sum of their parts.

AI’s speed and precision near-instantly parses applications based on your minimum requirements and sort those that pass for human intervention.

Your hiring professionals can then add the human touch to make candidates more engaged and your company more relatable to prospects. A person can also make the final decision of hiring based on AI data and the subjective qualities that machines can sometimes struggle to detect.

This last step is for candidates who may appear perfect on paper but may have some less concrete qualities that your company finds undesirable.

Finding the middle ground

Adapting AI in recruitment may seem like a long shot, but it isn’t without basis. Because of the continuous innovations in AI technology, businesses are seeing how they can use it in a plethora of business processes, including recruitment. With proper application, a hybrid model can result in an evolutionary leap in recruitment strategies, benefiting candidates and recruiters alike.

Instead of viewing AI as a replacement for traditional hiring practices, companies should see AI for what it is — a revolutionary tool that offers unprecedented efficiency that thrives in collaboration with human judgment and empathy.


Ken Crowell HeadshotKen Crowell is the Founder and CEO of EmployTest. EmployTest has helped more than 7000 corporate and government customers of all sizes in every US state and Canadian province, as well as more than 17 countries across six continents. EmployTest administers more than 60,000 tests to job applicants every year.

Guest Column — Helen Young Hayes Talks Talent Pipeline Disruption

Why do employers still rely on a four-year degree as an indicator of job readiness? Especially in fields where technology rapidly changes, a majority of companies continue to screen candidates by requiring a university education. A computer science degree that includes humanities and general education credits is often required to prove one’s ability to do well in fields like cybersecurity. In fact, up-to-date and rigorous job skills training, technology bootcamps and apprenticeships are not only sufficient, but in many ways are superior.

As employers face critical IT worker shortages and cybersecurity threats become more ominous, employers in tech must embrace these alternative credentialing strategies to broaden their talent pipeline.

READ — How Colorado Can Make “The Great Reset” a Reality for a Disrupted Talent Pipeline

But we need more than just ensuring employers can acquire talent quickly. Traditional hiring, which may overlook those without four-year computer science degrees, leaves out vast segments of our population. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice recently remarked that there are 700,000 vacant cybersecurity jobs, but the current field is made up of less than 25% women, 9% black and 4% Hispanic workers. Fortunately, those numbers are the impetus for the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education and the Cybersecurity Workforce Framework that will help K-12 teachers introduce cyber curricula and resources. But the need is urgent. We must call upon private industry to also recognize the need for technical job preparation outside of a university setting. Or as Rice says, “create new pathways” for those who did not or cannot attend a university.

Importantly, providing a method for advanced technical job skills training for non-college students is a matter of economic equity. People deserve to achieve their fullest potential and pursue economic freedom even without the resources to attend a four-year university. In Colorado, 64% of top jobs require a post-secondary credential, yet only 28% of Blacks and 17% of Hispanics in Colorado attain a bachelor’s degree. According to the Colorado Talent Equity Agenda, Colorado ranks 37th in terms of racial disparities measuring how well the state puts households of color on a pathway to economic prosperity.

Consider a report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on income disparity based on college attendance. Families that include at least one wage earner with a bachelor’s degree have nearly 8 times the wealth of families without a college graduate.

Ep Chart 001

If Americans can afford college degrees, they’re rewarded with a better job. But they’re not necessarily coming to those jobs with in-demand skills. According to a Harvard Business School survey, employers perceive that a college degree does not necessarily guarantee higher productivity or faster promotion rates in middle skills jobs. Companies need to hire for skill sets, not sheepskin, and widen access to employment in an equitable way. Job skills training and certifications must be promoted to the populations least likely to attend universities and embraced by the companies that will benefit from skilled technical talent.

READ — Veteran Unemployment: Untapped Workplace Resources

Companies need talent today. In the last decade, 9.8 million jobs were created, and due to new technology and retiring baby boomersthere are more than 35 million jobs waiting to be filled. According to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, only 36% of those job openings will be available to workers with less than a bachelor’s degree. Short-term credentialing, job skills training, and apprenticeship programs build desired skills and add to the existing talent pool inclusively and efficiently. Companies must embrace and implement programs and credentialing that screen in the skills they want, rather than screen out the workers they need.

In short, it’s time to rethink the education and hiring process so that every member of our society has the ability to learn and earn.


Helenhayes Hs Large

Helen is the founder and CEO of ActivateWork, a nonprofit recruiting, training and coaching firm that connects employers to a diverse pool of exceptional talent. 


PNC CO Regional President Guest Commentary — The War on Talent

With so many companies now hiring, it can be a race to get a competitive, first offer out to candidates. These days, if companies don’t make an offer within two weeks of the first interview, the prospective employee is very likely to receive another offer from a competitor sooner. Retaining top talent is also more challenging than ever. Often based on a simple LinkedIn profile search, many recruiters are luring existing workers away by offering significantly more money to join a new organization.  

As employers strive to navigate this new normal in the workplace, these are some of the attributes many candidates are seeking when evaluating whether to join a company.   

  • Company culture 
  • Wellness initiatives (physical health, mental health, financial health) 
  • Continuing education 
  • Flexible work environment 
  • Defined career path 

Here is one way PNC is assisting our clients in this challenging environment: Earlier this year we participated in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) annual workplace symposium. The 45-minute breakout session focused on the importance of annually reviewing employee benefits, and what to consider when selecting or contemplating a change to a new or existing benefits plan.  

Our Organizational Financial Wellness (OFW) group offers a suite of financial wellness education tools and resources for our clients’ employees. We also provide 401k advisement services and HSA’s (Health Savings account) guidance. At the close of the symposium, our OFW group offered product-specific solutions and assured all attendees they will always have a trusted partner in us.   

It is imperative to annually review benefits, expenses, and budgets. PNC constantly evaluates its vendors to enhance our benefits program. We also engage or re-engage with employees to improve retention and productivity. At the executive level, our Private Bank offers a suite of solutions through the Institute for Family Success, Trust & Estate Services. 

Our mission is to encourage our current and prospective clients to take care of their greatest assets – their employees. When workers grow concerned about their finances, that can negatively impact a company’s bottom line. Studies show that financially stressed employees cost American businesses an average of $500 billion a year in productivity alone.  

Through PNC’s program, we encourage and support the empowerment of employees by developing a suite of solutions for all levels of an organization at every stage of life — from broad-based employees to middle and upper management and even C-Suite Executives. Our dedicated bankers support clients in person and virtually to help with planning, education, and personalized products to meet employee needs. OFW helps employees build strong financial habits, creating a more confident and productive workforce for our clients, and that can help companies win the talent war. 


Ryan Beiser HeadshotRyan Beiser is regional president for PNC Bank, Colorado. In this role, Beiser is responsible for leading overall growth across Colorado, with a specific focus on the Denver Metro area, as well as overseeing all aspects of Corporate Banking in the region. His office implements all local sponsorship and philanthropic efforts to execute PNC’s community-based goals and initiatives.

Active in the community, Beiser is a member of YPO Colorado and serves on the board of directors for Mile High United Way, the Craig Hospital Foundation, the American Heart Association of Colorado and the Children’s Museum of Denver. He also represents PNC on the board of advisors for the University of Colorado Denver Business School, the Early Childhood Leadership Commission for the State of Colorado, and the Major Gifts Council for Early Childhood Education of the Mile High United Way.

Earning the Trust of Talented Candidates in 2022

Pandemic recovery and The Great Resignation are continuing to cause challenges and uncertainty for business leaders at every level. In 2022, an increasing concern is: how to recruit and retain talent.

You know you need to compete for high quality people with the right skills and cultural fit to achieve your business goals. However, in our current job market — it’s the candidates who have the upper hand — and even if you choose them, they may not choose you. That makes this a good time to revisit how you win the talented people you seek.

What is it that candidates want from you? What can you do to become a best-choice organization? Understanding that recruitment is a priority equal to all your other top business priorities, is one answer. With each measure, a strategy is required.


In this case, your strategy can be to treat recruitment like a valued sales process. For most leaders, that requires a different mindset. The three overriding principles that should guide your strategy, are:

1. Treat every candidate with the same care you do customers, cultivating relationships from your first ad to onboarding. Integrate that same level of care into your culture, because retention is part of your recruitment process.

2. Be genuine and truthful in your communications, from employer brand to one-on-one interviews. Don’t just say it, be it!

3. Remember, it’s not one thing, it’s everything you do that makes a positive impression on candidates. Pay attention to the small things.

Recruit Like a Top-Notch Salesperson

Like sales, strategic recruiting is a constant, every day, full-time effort. Keep the three principles above top-of-mind as you create a feeling of excitement and belonging that wins quality candidates to your team.

In the end, candidates decide to work for you for the same reasons customers buy your products or services: largely because they’ve come to trust or like you based on how you make them feel.


Pay attention to your communication. Job seekers notice whether your job postings are enticing or boring. Make them compelling, interesting, and fun.

Candidates evaluate how they experience you as an organization throughout the interview and assessment process: Do they feel like an afterthought, or do they feel respected and valued at every step of the way? They see on your website how you describe your culture and values and measure them against your reputation. Why do you do what you do — have you expressed it clearly? And what’s so special about your leadership — why should people follow your vision?

Consider all of this and more, in creating a well-defined and essential sales strategy toward recruitment.

Your Recruitment Sales Process Should Look Much Like This:

Rather than waiting until you have an opening, build a pipeline of qualified candidates so you have a broad choice of “right” people for critical roles. Use the many tools available to create strategies that add speed, quality, and diversity to your recruiting efforts. 

Broaden your hiring efforts to include internal candidates who are already a cultural fit and can be trained to take on new responsibilities. Many are looking for opportunities for growth, and you risk losing them altogether if they aren’t considered.

The majority of candidates check out your website before applying for a position. Make sure your employer brand is positive and comes across in a clear and compelling way. Check Glassdoor to make sure that company and employee messaging are consistent.

Don’t simply post ads in the usual places. Use a mix of employment branding, marketing, and selling geared toward telling both active and passive candidates why they should want to work for you.

Instead of thinking of recruiting as a one-time thing, use a CRM tool and text messaging to drip-market to candidate pipelines, and allocate resources to contact candidates often to get them engaged.

Keep the application process fast, flexible, and intuitive. In this tight job market, speed is critical. Candidates won’t wait for you or suffer the indignity of slow- or no-response after spending their time and effort applying. Promises of “we’ll get back to you” with no follow-up can make a mockery of your brand.

Don’t just hint at what your purpose and culture mean to you; tell it in a story so that candidates “feel” what it’s like to work for you.

Interview time is critical; interviews should be a two-way street. Make it a conversation, and offer interviews outside regular hours.

Recognize and embrace the reality that the majority of today’s employees prefer to work in a hybrid model, and a significant percentage want to work remotely. Offer candidates choices and flexibility whenever possible.

Embrace technology; automate but don’t replace the human touch. If you use technologies like chatbots, make certain they don’t create endless circles of frustration instead of providing answers. Include an optional mobile application process. Tech tools, done right, are especially important in attracting younger generations.

Appreciate that hourly-pay positions are typically customer-facing roles. Employers who show they value their hourly employees — enhancing both, their recruiting practices and working conditions — will be the ones that win and retain these essential workers.

Today’s top candidates want to know what you’re doing to ensure Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). It has become a business imperative that your brand and reputation include a strong commitment to DEI, as well as an employee base that’s congruent with your customers. Companies lacking diversity are losing candidate interest, tenured employees, and business opportunities.

Don’t stop with successful recruitment. Make retention part of your recruiting strategy and put equal effort into both finding and keeping your people. Replacing employees is much costlier than keeping them.

All in all, how you make candidates feel as they experience your recruiting process indicates to them how you’ll treat them as employees. It doesn’t matter whether you’re recruiting an hourly worker or your next EVP — every candidate deserves to feel valued.

When your process is respectful and personal, and communication is frequent and thoughtful, candidates become excited about working for you over a competitor who hasn’t made a similar investment in building candidate relationships.


Kathleen Quinn VotawKathleen Quinn Votaw is Founder/CEO and Speaker/Author of TalenTrust and KQV Speaks. Her first book, Solve the People Puzzle: How High-Growth Companies Attract and Retain Top Talent, debuted in February 2016; with the second book, Dare to Care in the Workplace: A Guide to the New Way We Work and related Podcast launched between 2021-2022.
Kathleen and her firm have achieved many recognitions from many well-known organizations, including ColoradoBiz Magazine, Vistage Worldwide, and the coveted Inc. 5000 for two consecutive years. Kathleen is a regularly published columnist and popular speaker on topics related to HR strategies and workplace culture. Reach Kathleen at [email protected] or (303) 838-3334.

Recruiting during recovery: Tips for hiring top talent right now

Now that we’re in phase two of COVID-19 recovery and getting back to work, when it comes to talent, you may feel like you’ve shifted from looking for water in a desert to finding a needle in a haystack. Both are time consuming and require the right resources. Both also offer the opportunity to reevaluate how you operate and come up with better strategies to find and keep good people.

Even if hiring is at a full stop for you right now, your recruiting efforts should continue as always. Hiring and recruiting are not at all the same thing. Don’t let high unemployment fool you into thinking your perfect candidate will be easy to find. We still see skill gaps and talent scarcity in many industries and geographic areas. In addition, COVID-19 is likely shining a light on any gaps you have in talent, and perhaps in leadership, as we see how people behave and perform under stress.

Successful recovery from the diverse challenges this pandemic has created will be largely based on the people you have on your team. It is mission critical that you continuously recruit people for both skills and cultural fit so you can hire them immediately when the time is right.

Deloitte put it well in a recent article published in Harvard Business Review: “The biggest challenge organizations will likely face in recovery is the tension between getting back to work and rethinking work as they embrace a new reality.”

Phase one was about safety and responsibility, which may even have meant shutting down temporarily. In phase two, businesses face uncertainties in every direction: the economy, the markets and workplaces themselves. What you do or don’t do, and the people making decisions and carrying them out, will affect your productivity and profits long into the future. Top talent has always defined business success, and companies that continuously recruit are a step ahead of everyone else. Business continuity has always depended on people continuity, in good times and challenging ones.

Use both head and heart 

Because one size does not fit all, every business must figure out its unique way through phase two recovery, using both head and heart. Focusing on these three areas will give you a good start from a head perspective:

  • Stabilize. What’s your break-even number? What are your inputs and outputs? What are your financial resources and how much cash is available now?
  • Grow. How, when, where and why? Which employees and clients are your best resources? What will inspire them?
  • Reset. Reforecast to the present and consider both worst and best scenarios. Be brave enough to look at the good, bad and ugly of today’s reality. What is best for you, your employees and your clients?

Empathy, or being able to step into another’s shoes, is the essence of “heart.” It means listening for the unspoken, making certain everyone feels heard and being transparent. In making workplace changes, remember that every employee comes to work as a whole person who needs understanding and renewed hope now more than ever. Employees are counting on the wisdom and expertise of leadership to reestablish a sense of security and normalcy.

Vibhas Ratanjee, a lead consultant for Gallup, says healthcare workers need to know leaders have their back. They should cultivate holistic employee wellbeing to shield workers from burnout and promote exceptional performance during the COVID-19. This is good advice for all of us.

Phase two is a time for courage and change. The decisions you make can make it easier to attract and retain the top talent you need to fully recover.

Are you recruiting intimacy-driven salespeople? You should be

What does customer intimacy feel like? Many people don’t know because they’ve never experienced it, whether they’re sitting in the buyer’s seat or the seller’s seat. An intimate customer relationship is based on alignment, understanding and deep connection.

If your business involves complex sales, you need to be recruiting intimacy-driven salespeople who can meet your customers where they are and love the opportunity to do it. These are the relationship builders you need to grow your company, and yet you don’t see “driven by intimacy” listed as a desired trait on many job descriptions. The concept of what it means to be intimate with your customers is an issue across industries and businesses, and yet it seems to have gone missing from consideration when it comes to both culture and recruiting.

Great salespeople have several traits in common. We all know most of them: good listeners, organized and prepared, ask good questions, OK with silence, comfortable talking about money and impeccable at follow-up, among others. But the thing that makes customers feel truly understood is when your company culture matches their own values and culture.

Although we might think otherwise, healthcare provides an example of what this means. After all, there is no more intimate relationship than the one between doctors and patients.  In a recent discussion with one of our prospective customers, he shared that customer intimacy is a critical issue in the healthcare industry and for companies selling into that market. He suggests that intimacy means speaking the industry language where doctors are providers to their patients. It means understanding how mission driven your customers are and adjusting your message to reflect your “why” for serving them. And it means making sure your culture supports your people in a way that sustains the intimacy of relationships.

No matter the industry, your specific mission and culture are unique, which means you need to recruit and retain people who fit with all aspects of your organization. They are worth many times over what it may take to find and keep them. They are your right people and there are ways to discover who and where they are.

In terms of recruitment, your strategy should involve developing an ongoing pipeline of likely candidates and using every tool available to screen for culture and components important to your industry and clients. When it comes to culture, there is much to think about. Keeping great people involves a culture of respect, fairness, opportunity to grow, flexibility, transparency, common purpose and more. Communicate with your people continuously, get their feedback and act on it. Leadership communication is even more important during extraordinary times like battling COVID-19 and throughout every phase of recovery.

Make “intimacy-driven” your most important requirement for salespeople and creating intimacy in your workplace your priority. It will flow out into the market through your people, resulting in long-lasting, profitable relationships that both your salespeople and customers will feel and value.